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    Matt Robinson

    Unleashed 2016 BMW M2 F87

    Posted in Cars on 21.11.2015

    M2 Unleashed! The long-awaited 2016 BMW M2 F22 has arrived and we delve into the press pack to discover all there is to know. The 2 Series gets a full-blown M range-topper, with 370hp, 343lb ft and the ability to do 0-62mph in just 4.3 seconds Words: Matt Robinson Photography: BMW.

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    2020 AC Schnitzer ACL2S F22 - 400bhp tuned monster BMW M240i-based

    Posted in Cars on 05.11.2019

    To celebrate its 30th anniversary AC Schnitzer pledged to build 30 special cars based on the F22 or F23 M240i. We drive not only the first ever ACL2S – the Essen Motor Show car itself – but also the only one in the UK... Words: Simon Jackson. Photography: Gus Gregory.

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    Will Beaumont
    BMW M240i
    The M Performance coupe surprises a sceptical staff writer with its ability to feel more like a proper M Division car.

    / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #2018

    Our M240i has been with us for a good six months as I write this, but despite plenty of opportunities, I haven’t felt particularly compelled to hop into this 335bhp rear-wheel- drive coupe. Why? Because I’ve simply never fallen for the M240i, nor its predecessor, the M235i, or its hot hatch equivalent, the M140i. To me they’re good, ordinary #BMW s: fast enough and with decent handling, but the M Division influence implied by the ‘M Performance’ branding has never felt overwhelming.

    Then recently I noticed that our 240 had spent a couple of nights in the car park, so I took pity on it. And I found more obvious M-car traits than I was expecting, although, as is the modern way, I had to select Sport or Sport+ mode before these characteristics became apparent. The first was from the gearbox.

    Unfortunately, the abrupt gearchange that you experience with the #DCT ’box in current M-cars has made its way into the M240i’s eight-speed auto. At every full-throttle upshift the change of ratios is so forceful that it sends a shock through the drivetrain. If you change up mid-corner the whole car becomes flustered. Thankfully this isn’t as frightening as in the proper #M-cars , as the 240i’s open differential means only one tyre will lose traction, rather than both, if the gearchange is especially brutal. It’s perhaps the first time in my life I’ve been glad a rear-wheel-drive car didn’t have an LSD.

    Once accustomed to the brusque ’box, things got much better. In Sport mode the M240i feels more willing to weave its nose through a set of bends than any other sub-full-M BMW I’ve driven. Instead of the squidgy-soft chassis I had expected, I found much tighter control, less body roll and more precision. And even despite the lack of LSD, the throttle had a much greater influence on the car’s attitude than I thought it would.

    This is the first M240i I’ve driven with adaptive dampers, and they clearly expand the car’s repertoire: every-day-comfortable on long journeys but sharper when you want to have fun. The M2 may make do with passive items, but the fancy dampers on the 240 do make it feel like more of an M-car when you need it to. Will Beaumont (@ Will-Beaumont)

    Date acquired November 2017
    Total mileage 8798
    Mileage this month 1561
    Costst his month £0
    Mpg this month 28.5
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    Elizabeth

    Twin-turbo 1000hp Chevrolet LSX376 V8-engined BMW M2 F87

    Posted in Cars on 09.03.2018

    Built to go drifting and with 1000hp from its twin-turbo V8, this M2 is an unholy creation that unleashes fi re and fury on all and sundry, and we love it. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Patrik Karlsson.

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    Matt Robinson

    2017 BMW M240i Coupé LCI F22 First drive

    Posted in Cars on 06.09.2017

    If it ain’t broke… Matt Robinson samples the updated BMW M240i, and is left wondering who still thinks they absolutely must have an M2?

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    Bob BMW

    2017 AC Schnitzer ACL2S - 400hp tuned BMW M240i F22

    Posted in Cars on 14.06.2017

    What a treat! New Car Test.  After being blown away by last year’s Schnitzer ACL2 show car, Bob Harper gets his excited hands on the extremely desirable, limited-edition ACL2S Photography: Dave Smith.

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    Bob BMW
    Birds’ fully-fettled M235i / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Birds-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Birds / #2017 / #Birds / #Birds-M235

    Bird of Prey Everyone’s having a go at improving the M235i but Birds’ fullyfettled example might be the best yet. With more power and a thoroughly refined suspension set up this M235i is gunning for the M2… and might just beat it! Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    It’s almost possible to determine how desirable a BMW model is by the amount of tuning products that become available from the aftermarket for that car. It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that we’re not inundated by companies offering upgrades for the 5 Series GT, but hardly a day goes by without there seemingly being an upgrade for BMW’s latest pocket rocket, the M235i and it’s slightly more recent sibling, the M240i. And in case hatchback owners are feeling left out it’s fair to say that the vast majority of what works on the Coupé also translates to the three- and five-door models, too.

    In the past few issues we’ve had several F22 Coupés in these pages vying to be the definitive version of the top-notch coupé and while we don’t think that any of them are claiming to rival BMW’s engineering capabilities what most companies are offering is something a little bit more hardcore than BMW’s factory offerings. There’s no doubt that if it chose to BMW could create the ultimate weapon using the F22 M240i but that car’s called the M2… and by the same rationale it can’t make the M2 the best thing since sliced bread as then no one would buy an M4. Ultimately the M240i is built to compete at a particular price point and for that reason there’s plenty of room for improvement.

    The world’s more or less your oyster when it come to tuning this model with a plethora of parts to choose from, both in terms of styling and performance, but at first glance Birds’ subtle black example that’s waiting patiently for me at the company’s Iver HQ looks like its missed out on the upgrades – take the badges off and it could almost pass for a 218d M Sport. Nice. That’s how I prefer my high performance machinery, understated.

    Despite its subtle looks a huge amount of work has gone into the set up for this 2 Series and when one speaks to Birds’ MD, Kevin Bird, it’s clear that he’s absolutely passionate about getting the best out of the car. As Quaife’s official distributor for both BMW and Mercedes limited slip differentials it’s almost a given that one would be fitted to the M235i to improve traction, and as more power never goes amiss an engine upgrade has endowed Birds’ M235i with a 390hp output. But it’s in the realm of #BMW suspension that Kevin really excels and he’s not been overly impressed with some of BMW’s latest offerings, especially on the F30 generation of machinery.

    Having already worked wonders on several of BMW’s latest cars – most of which we’ve driven and been impressed by (witness the 435d xDrive in last month’s issue) – Kevin set about putting the experience he’d gained working with the F-Series cars onto the M235i. While definite improvements were made with some bespoke springs and dampers Kevin decided to get a second opinion from James Weaver, a legendary sports car racer, who Kevin had become reacquainted with at a charity track event. Weaver had driven Birds’ Z4 35i at this event and had reckoned it could be considerably improved so Kevin wondered whether Weaver could offer some useful pointers when it came to the development work on the M235i. Weaver has won more sports car races than most people have had hot dinners and along with his chassis engineer, Peter Weston, knows more about setting a car up than just about anyone and after some initial meetings it was agreed that Weston and Weaver would help to fine tune the Birds’ M235i package and as a starting point Weston requested some measurements from the car. “I was astonished at the level of detail he required,” Kevin commented. “Not only things like arm ratios, corner-weights, spring stiffness, damper rates and so on, but stuff that we’d never even started to consider, like unsprung weights of each corner, centre of gravity above front and rear axles, bump stop stiffness and contact points. The measuring work alone took us two full days.”

    It was time well spent though as a few days later Weston came back to Birds with new spring and damper settings and after waiting for the springs to be produced and for Bilstein to re-valve the dampers they were duly fitted to the car to await a test by Weaver. Kevin takes up the story again; “The weather was cold and damp, but nevertheless, after much fiddling with tyre pressures, front and rear geometry and different wheel and tyre sets, a conclusion was reached. There was no doubt that the car was behaving much better than our own calculated confection, but it was suggested that even more could be achieved in terms of ride quality and especially traction and grip levels with a second revision to the set up”.

    After a further period of waiting the revised set up was fitted to the car. “This included changes to spring rates both front and rear, and damper curves to suit. Moreover, changes to the front track width (to generate less negative scrub radius) and, surprisingly, a different choice of tyre,” said Kevin, and he does admit to having his doubts as to whether the extra expense was worth it, after all, the first of the Weaver/Weston kits had seemed more or less spot on when he’d tested the car. He should have had faith though as when he drove the revised set up on the car he says it was a revelation. “Not only was the ride quality better than before, ultimate body control improved on our bumpy B roads and the steering feel improvements were in a different league. And the traction and grip levels? Simply unbelievable. Given the temperatures and conditions, we never expected to be able to assess that characteristic, but it’s blindingly obvious that where we had so little before, now we have it everywhere. This is without doubt the best suspension tune we have achieved so far.”
    Unsurprisingly as I stepped into Birds’ demonstrator I had pretty high expectations, especially as so much development work had gone into the car’s set up – no off the shelf parts here – with every aspect of the car’s underpinnings having been closely examined and finely honed by people who’ve probably forgotten more about driving and car control then I will ever learn. As is the way with these things the pictures have to take priority so I gingerly pick my way around the M25 and some of Surrey’s back roads to rendezvous with snapper Smithy. I’m concentrating on avoiding puddles and trying to keep the car clean at this point – and sadly I notice I’ve failed miserably in this respect when I arrive at our location – but it does dawn on me as I step out of the car that I’ve not actually noticed the ride quality as I’ve been cruising along. Which is exactly as you want it when not on a charge as you don’t want your internal organs going through a work out every time you drive your car, especially when you just need it to be a form of transport rather than for entertainment.

    Once the M235i’s been given a thorough cleaning and the static images are in the bag it’s time to head out for some action shots and now that I’m less concerned with keeping it clean I can delve a little bit deeper into the car’s performance and concentrate on the driving experience. Having slipped the car into Sport mode to sharpen up the throttle response one’s immediately hit by the additional soundtrack coming from the BMW M Performance exhaust with which this car is equipped – it might not make the car go any faster, but it sure sounds good.

    Running past the camera for the side-on panning shots is a little frustrating as what I really want to be doing is hammering the car as hard as possible but as this will make Smithy’s life tricky and will just make the process take even longer I content myself with driving briskly enough to give the images the sensation of speed, all the while feeling very comfortable in the car. No crashing over bumps, no jiggly ride, spot on in fact.

    Finding suitable corners in this part of the world can be difficult so we decide to head for where we know there’s something suitable which is a 15 minute drive away and what a 15 minutes they are. The back roads round here are quite tight but progress is rapid and massively grin inducing. Speeds rise as familiarity grows and my first impression is one of significant improvements to the steering, with the M235i almost feeling as if a slightly quicker rack has been installed. The car now responds with more immediacy as the steering wheel is turned and even on the damper sections of roads we encounter understeer really doesn’t rear its ugly head unless one’s being wildly optimistic with one’s corner entry speed.

    At the same time it’s devastatingly rapid on the straights between the corners and it makes no matter whether you simply leave the ‘box to its own devices or elect to swap cogs yourself with the paddles. This latter mode gives you a little more control as you enter the corners and one aspect I particularly like about this conversion is that it’s not afraid to allow the car a certain amount of body roll. This endows the M235i with the necessary compliance to shrug off and ride out mid-corner imperfections and the further I drive it the more convinced I become that virtually nothing is going to throw it off line or upset its cornering attitude. Grip levels are astonishingly high and there’s traction by the barrel load, not something you can always say about the M235i in inclement conditions when you ask it to deliver its last two-tenths of performance. In un-fettled form it can become a little ragged in these circumstances, but the Birds machine just gets on with the job of being blisteringly quick yet entertaining at the same time without a buttockclenching moment in sight.

    Once the pictures are in the bag and Smithy’s headed off to get editing the images I decide to take the long way home and avoid the M25, just to further experience the pace and poise of this car on the back roads. It doesn’t disappoint on any level. The ride’s great, the grip is of the highest order and the performance is sensational. The standard M235i might be a great bit of kit, but if you’re a keen driver who likes to use all the car’s performance without any compromises then may I suggest you speak to Kevin Bird about how he can transform your pocket rocket into an M2 eater.

    CONTACT: Birds / Tel: 01753 657444 / Web: www.birdsauto.com

    DATA FILE BIRDS’ #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-Birds

    / #Birds-B2-3.5-Complete-Conversion : 390hp engine upgrade, Birds’ springs and dampers, #Quaife limited slip differential, 18-inch tyres and geometry set up – £7239.

    B2 Dynamics package: Birds’ springs and dampers, Quaife limited slip differential, 18-inch tyres and geometry set up – £4776.

    Please note: Prices quoted include all parts, labour and VAT. Further upgrades are available on request.

    “Not only was the ride quality better than before, ultimate body control improved on our bumpy B roads and the steering feel improvements were in a different league”

    Speeds rise as familiarity grows and my first impression is one of significant improvements to the steering.
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    Bob BMW
    Small Wonder Motech’s fully-tuned M235i. How a few choice modifications can transform the M235i. There’s no doubting that the M235i is a wonderful pocket rocket but it doesn’t take a huge amount of work to turn it into an M2-baiting super coupé. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.

    As I’m blasting back and forth along one of Northamptonshire’s most excellent stretches of road I can’t help but think that in some respects the 2 Series Coupé reminds me of the venerable E30 3 Series. It’s small (relatively speaking) and feels lithe and eager when attacking a favourite piece of road. Obviously things have changed dramatically during the 30 years that separates the cars, but I can still detect the essence of the E30 in the 2 Series – BMW might have rolled out the old 2002 when it was launching the M235i, but for me there are more parallels to be drawn with the second generation 3 Series.

    And like the iconic E30 the new 2 Series Coupé seems to be attracting the attention of the tuning companies just like the E30 did back in the day. Virtually not a day goes by without an email dropping into the BMW Car inbox announcing the arrival of another new tuning product for the car, and there are no prizes for guessing which model is firmly in the centre of the tuner’s spotlight. Yup, the M235i is the weapon of choice and with prices for used examples now down to around the £20k mark owners can cherry pick a few tuning products and end up with a machine that’s every bit as quick and as entertaining as the new M2 but for half the price. Yes, it won’t have the attitude that the M2’s wide-arched styling brings to the party, but if you prefer to pass under the radar than be the centre of attention then that’s no bad thing.

    Mike Hodder who heads up Motech Performance has been involved with the BMW tuning market for probably more years than he cares to remember and like the 2 Series his roots go back to the days of the E30. His previous development mule was an E92 M3 and when we sampled it back in the October 2016 issue we found that his few simple upgrades had helped to bring out a little bit more from the already pretty effective M3. And while he was a big fan of the M235i straight out of the box he felt that he could apply his years of tuning experience to the newest pocket rocket to make it a real world friendly fun machine – one that could just as easily be used on the daily commute as well as coming alive when clipping apices on your favourite ribbon of back road.


    Thus he didn’t want to go too extreme with any of the work he was going to do on the M235i and after years of experience in the tuning world he feels that the majority of his customers want something that’s pretty straightforward and once fitted can more or less be forgotten about. Fully adjustable suspension set ups are all well and good and might have plenty of showroom appeal, but how many owners actually carry out those adjustments once the kit’s been fitted? Thus Mike decided to cherry pick some of the best products on the market, add a frisson of Hodder, and then package them up as a kit that can be fitted to an M235i (or M135i or the latest M140i and M240i).

    Thus what we have here is the full works, the M400 set up, but for owners not wanting to go the whole hog just about everything included in the M400 package can also be spec’d individually. While the M235i isn’t exactly lacking in power and performance if you’re looking at endowing the car with M2-rivalling pace you’re going to need to extract a little bit more from the turbocharged straight-six and the first step on the ladder for the M400 is a Remus Powerizer.

    This is a plug-and-play module that plugs into the M235i’s engine wiring harness and can run different states of tune. Mike finds that most people just leave it alone once fitted and while he knows there are other products on the market that give you greater functionality and more options he finds that the vast majority of his customers prefer the simplicity of the Powerizer. This is combined with a Pipercross freeflow air filter and a Forge Motorsport hard pipe and boost kit and a Forge front-mount intercooler.

    To ensure the last bit of efficiency is wrought from the engine a Remus turbo back exhaust system is fitted and for those of you who aren’t overly familiar with the company it’s safe to say that it’s one of Europe’s leading brands and you might be surprised to learn that its systems are OE fit to many performance cars. Like most quality set ups it’s tuned to provide an unobtrusive soundtrack when cruising yet will properly sing when the engine’s extended. What you can’t see in the pictures are the bespoke Eibach springs that have been fitted to the car. While Eibach obviously supply a huge range of off the shelf components Mike took advantage of Eibach’s new product line that’s available to its dealers called Private Label. This kit is based on a Pro-kit, and dealers can have their own Private Label kit which is to their specification but made by Eibach, so for Mike’s set up he’s gone for a greater suspension drop than that already offered by Eibach (25mm at the front and 20mm at the rear) but the progressive rate springs have also been designed to offer a comfortable ride as well as improved handling. Mike could have had the springs painted in a myriad of different colours but in the end he opted to go for a similar shade to the #BMW factory look and the only way you’d know by looking at the springs that these aren’t factory is the discreet Motech logo and part number.

    This particular example of the #BMW-M235i was an exdealer demonstrator and had been treated to a raft of BMW M Performance upgrades prior to Mike purchasing the car and all the official BMW styling does look good, from the lower front spoiler to the forged rims to the rear carbon spoiler and the carbon mirror caps it looks suitably purposeful and aggressive. Mike’s not a fan of run-flats so has ditched these in favour of some Yokohama Advan Sport tyres. Inside it’s more or less as BMW intended bar a great-to-the-touch alcantara-clad M Performance steering wheel, pedal set and some carbon-effect trim.

    The whole package looks very alluring as we’re shooting the statics and details at the nearby Sywell Aerodrome but I’m itching to drive the car so we head off to our favourite back roads in the area to see how it fares. The quick dash up the A14 confirms that none of the Motech upgrades have spoiled the everyday usability of the car. It’s a quick dual carriageway and cruising at the legal limit the exhaust’s perfectly muted and the ride’s firm but nicely compliant.

    Once we’re on the back roads we can have a proper play and it only takes a few flexes of the right ankle to have my VW Passat company car that’s acting as photoshoot support vehicle disappearing to a small dot in the M235i’s rear view mirror. Despite the bright skies it’s bitterly cold and the roads are still slick with moisture but the M235i takes all in its stride, the Yokohamas clinging on manfully as we up the speed as we become confident in the car’s abilities.


    There’s no doubting that there’s plenty of performance on offer and while quick getaways from a standstill will have the traction control light flickering demonically thanks to the ambient conditions the tyres soon find grip and the M235i’s hurtling off up the road like a scalded cat. Now we’re using more of the revs more of the time the Remus exhaust joins the party and it sounds glorious, singing away as the revs rise and eliciting a nice ‘barrumph’ on the overrun or as you swap cogs. It goads you on to try a little harder on each pass for the camera and I soon get into a rhythm with the car that’s deeply satisfying. Sometimes doing repeated runs for the camera can be a tedious affair, but this time I’m almost disappointed when snapper Gus raises his hand to say that’s enough as far as he’s concerned.

    The Private Label Motech/Eibach springs have proved very effective too, the lower centre of gravity helping the car to corner with a flatter attitude and while the ride can get a little jiggly at times when traversing really rough sections it handles dips and crests in the road very well and the set up proves to be very linear in its responses so you always know how the car is going to react. This inspires plenty of confidence and we’d say that between Motech and Eibach they’ve more or less got this set up spot on. As we head back to base we have one last banzai run on the B roads and the M400 gels together to dole out barrel loads of fun before we hit the more populated roads for our cruise back to base. It’s a job well done by Motech and has hit the duality of purpose nail of everyday usability with back road entertainment possibilities squarely on the head and proves that just like the good old E30 fun can come in small packages.

    CONTACT: Motech Performance / Tel: 01604 810000 / Web: www.motechperfomance.co.uk

    THANKS TO: Sywell Aerodrome / Tel: 01604 491112 / Web: www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk

    Now we’re using more of the revs more of the time the Remus exhaust joins the party and it sounds glorious, singing away as the revs rise.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Motech-M400 / #Motech / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-F22 / #Motech-M400-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Motech-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Motech-M400/ #2017

    ENGINE: straight-six, 24-valve
    MAX POWER: 380hp
    MODIFICATIONS
    • Remus powerzier
    • Remus cat back with gloss black tips and carbon insets.
    • Pipercross panel filter
    • Forge hard pipe and boost kit
    • Forge Motorsport front mount intercooler
    • 12mm TPI wheel spacers
    • Eibach/Motech springs -25mm (front), -20mm (rear)
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